Tag Archives: ramen

Food in Kyoto

This is a bowl of ramen, loaded with green onions. Before it was ready to eat, it looked like this…

Fire!

Here’s a quick video of Michelle and I losing our eyebrows. The first half of the video is the owner holding up a bunch of cards in English to tell us not to run away screaming.

These might look familiar to some of you. We went to Din Tai Fung in Kyoto. That makes three locations we’ve been to now. Kyoto, Shanghai, and Taiwan. We’ve never been  back home in Los Angeles. Now it’s almost like we can’t go because it’s too pedestrian for us.

Standard dumplings but topped with shrimp.

Pork chop rice!

Kyoto is definitely worth a visit, though it’s not a fast-paced, modern city like Tokyo. While it’s not backwoods town, it seems to move at a slower pace, sticking to its cultural roots. We were glad to get a chance to see Kyoto, but we were also very glad to be heading back to Tokyo.

Some well deserved drinks for the train ride back.

We did a lot of walking. This is relaxation time.

Raumen Museum

If you haven’t figured it out by the last post, Japan has museums for everything, but they’re not quite like museums in America. They tend to be more like mini amusement parks than museums. The Raumen  Museum is even called a food amusement park on the Wikipedia page.

Here we are at the entrance to the Raumen Museum in Shin-Yokohama. The doorway is a noodle bowl! This is going to be awesome.

What we walked into was mostly a gift shop that also housed this remote control car racetrack. We proceeded to head downstairs to find out what else was going on in this “museum.”

One flight of stairs here was like a time warp, dropping you into a 1950’s Tokyo neighborhood.

Inside ramen shops representing different regions of Japan surround a plaza, where performers entertain guests.

I was baffled at this place. Although it did not cost very much to enter, it was obviously very gimmicky. I wondered why they would even bother offering a yearly membership to this place. Then I realized that it was really buying a pass to a food court that serves up some pretty delicious ramen.

This is probably the first amusement park I’ve been to where the food was good but not sugary or fried. If I lived or worked near the Raumen Museum, I think I might get an annual pass. It’s be great to have so many good options for ramen in one spot all the time.

Wandering Harajuku

Harajuku is a fashion-forward region in Tokyo. This is where Tokyo’s youth like to spend their time. On Sundays it is crowded, people everywhere. We didn’t step into most of the clothing stores because they were packed.

There are people everywhere!

Again with the options. Clean in any color you wish.

And the snacks!

So many snacks!

MoMA has a store where you can buy expensive, cleverly designed products.t

Japanese people love crepes. There are crepe shops all over the place.

They also love condoms.

Just a chicken sandwich from a fast food joint we poked our heads into while walking the area.

They cook noodles perfectly, but they also always cook eggs perfectly so the yolk is perfectly runny, not so thin that it runs away from the sandwich.

I really want this foosball table.

Stopped for a coffee break.

We got hungry so we stopped for some ramen. There is one rule in Japan for food. If the line is long, it’s probably awesome. We kept getting into lines and then realizing they were places we already had on our map to check out.

Hungry customers slurping down noodles.

Michelle always goes the spicy route. Always.

Egg, pork, chashu, bamboo, onions, and seasoned cod roe.

So, so very good.

 

Early Morning Eats in Tsukiji

After wandering around the fish market for a little while we got hungry. We decided to get some ramen at a little stand we passed by earlier in the outer market. We didn’t even realize this was the ramen shop my friend recommended to me, Chuka Soba Inoue.

It opens at 4:30 AM, but prep starts well before that.

Different websites say they only serve shoyu ramen in chicken broth, but these bones used in the broth say otherwise, unless they have gigantic chickens in Japan. Regardless of whether other meat stock is also thrown into the mix, there is still only one item to order.

Early in the morning customers line up to get a warm bowl of ramen.

The master at work.

Chashu, bamboo shoots, and onions in a warm, savory broth. So delicious.

Seating does not exist here. Tables are set up for customers to stand street side. Here is Michelle is slurping down the rest of her broth as the sun begins to make its appearance.

Not being satisfied with only noodles, we decided to take in some fresh fish since we were in Tsukiji and had plenty of it available to us. We opted for chirashizushi.

Fresh fish, hours from the ocean and right into our mouths. You can’t beat that.

First Meal in Tokyo: Ordered by Robot (Kinda)

We took a redeye flight to Japan and landed at about 5:00 AM.

The sun was just rising over Haneda Airport. Since it was too early to check into our room, we dropped our bags off at our hotel and went wandering. Hunger quickly set in as we explored the city.

Here is Michelle putting in our order for our first meal. Since all taxes and service fees are included in prices, a lot of restaurants use vending machines to take orders. Select your order, insert your money, and out comes a ticket for your order.

This is one of the more advanced units that has a digital screen with photos of the food, which makes ordering easier for people that don’t speak or read Japanese like us. Others just had mechanical buttons with Japanese writing on them.

While the use of a vending machine may seem a bit odd, it’s pretty common in restaurants in Japan. It is not a lack of personal touch either, as there is often someone in these restaurants to greet and seat you after you’ve ordered through the machine. I wish we had more of this in America. I’d probably have my food order screwed up less often.

Who wants to go to Japan?

Lately I’ve been working on planning our upcoming vacation to Japan. I find that using Google Maps is super useful for planning options. I’ve thrown together some of the items that we have available to us when we are in Tokyo.


View Tokyo in a larger map

While I’ve done a lot of planning, I am relying a lot on the work that other people have already done. I’m supplementing my map with this great map of noodle joints thanks to Ramen Adventures.


View Tokyo Ramen Shops in a larger map

I’m so excited!

Asa Ramen

Asa Ramen is another ramen bar in Gardena that I remember enjoying, but I’ve only been to this joint a couple of times. It’s only open during dinner hours, never for lunch.

Michelle ordered the Asa Ramen. This broth is a little too sweet for me to want to slurp up after I finish the noodles.

I got the special, the Shio Ramen with chashu. This was delicious, and I was scooping up spoonfuls of this broth and slurping it down.

The only down side to Asa Ramen is that the portions are not very big. When I get a bowl of noodles, I like  to hold it up to my face and have it dwarf my head. If the bowls were as large as Hataka Ramen’s bowls or if they had noodle refills for a dollars, I might be more inclined to come back here more often, but that’s probably the fat American in me talking.

Ramen Jinya

Although it’s quite the trek for us to get there, we decided to try out Ramen Jinya. It has received so much attention as of late that it was worth checking out.

The place is fairly large, definitely much larger than most ramen joints I’m used to seeing.

We were pretty hungry so we ordered a few things to snack on while we waited for the rest of our party. Spicy tuna roll. This was not spicy at all. It was pretty disappointing.

Crispy chicken. This was good. It reminds me of Musha’s Fried Chicken, but it’s definitely not quite as good as that.

Someone ordered a spicy tuna bowl, and by the looks of it and the fact that he kept adding Sriracha, it was the same batch of tuna used to make our sushi.

The gyoza were tasty, definitely a great compliment when you’re eating ramen.

I think I’ve only had one other occasion where the ingredients were placed on a separate plate from the broth and the noodles. I supposed that’s to show that the ingredients are fresh.

Michelle always pics a colorful assortment of ingredients for her dishes.

The soup, the meat, the noodles. The broth in my bowl is the Premium Tonkotsu, which is infused with fish flavor.

So what did we think of Ramen Jinya? We will let our empty dishes start the conversation.

Just because I will finish a dish doesn’t make it perfect. The broth at Ramen Jinya is excellent. While it’s got lots of flavor it doesn’t feel like it’s been pumped with a whole lot of salt to get it there. The noodles are a little bit weak like Daikokuya’s noodles though. They’re a little too limp to earn the Ramen Medal of Honor, an award I just made up right now. While it’s not earning any fictional awards, I would definitely come back to this place if I was in the area. It is a bit of the beaten path for regular visits, but I recommend you check it out at least once.

Hakata Ramen. Still the best.

Taste in food is always open to discussion. Who is to say that we all perceive taste exactly the same way? What may taste like a terrible meal to me (pho), may be the food you (Michelle) would want if you were stuck on a deserted island. To each his own.

Hakata Ramen is probably my favorite noodle joint. The location in Gardena was always a local favorite for Michelle and myself when we were living in the South Bay. It was convenient and delicious.

Last week we decided to check out the location in Rosemead. The ability to custom order how heavy you want your broth and how firm you want your noodles is great. I like my broth to be flavorful but not something that will make me drink gallons of water afterward. Noodles should be like a woman’s derrière, firm. If you disagree, that’s okay. You can make your bowl of ramen the way you like it.

After all that talk about the ramen, I really wish I had a better picture that actually showed the noodles. I’m still learning how to be a food blogger. I like to get the pictures, but really I just want to dig into the food.

Masago.

Spicy miso. Bet you can’t guess whose soup this went into.

Fried fish with cheese inside. Sounds like an odd combination.

But it’s so very good.

Gyoza always compliments a ramen meal well.

Fried squid. The batter they use for this is sweet and light. I like it a lot. Someone should coat everything in this batter and fry it.

There’s a lot of hype out there in the food community about different noodle joints, but after going through the rounds, Hakata Ramen is still my favorite. Waiting in a long line for Daikokuya or trying to figure out what hours Asa is actually open is something I don’t care to waste time on anymore. Hakata has it’s special place in my heart because it’s consistent and convenient, delicious food that’s always there when I need it.

Daikokuya must have been better in a previous life.

Again, hop into my DeLorean and let’s go eat at this spot Daikokuya I just heard about from a friend. Well maybe I didn’t just hear about it but the long lines always deterred me, especially when it’s for ramen. I’ve been spoiled in Gardena where good ramen shops are everywhere and waiting is something you don’t have to consider.

There are probably just as many people standing outside on the sidewalk waiting to get into the joint.

These sausages are good. I haven’t found a sausage that I don’t enjoy in my mouth. Yes, that is what she said.

I don’t know what happened to the gyoza, but they turned into a giant pancake. It’s okay though. They covered it up with a mountain of green onions. No one will know.

This is good ramen. The broth is excellent, definitely some of the best I’ve ever had in all my ramen consumption. The noodles, however, are just okay. When you put that together it’s a bit disappointing after the wait. Perhaps the wait raised my expectations or maybe it was too much to eat before I actually got to the ramen, but I was just expecting more from the fabled Daikokuya.